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Does Your Home Have What You Need To Age In Place?

“Aging in place” is a term used when older adults live in their own homes in safety and comfort. Maintaining dignity and independence is a high priority among adults in the United States. Over 85% of individuals 50-80 years old prefer to age in place in their later years. Although it is considered a top priority by most seniors and boomers, only one-third (30%) of these individuals feel confident that their living space has the features that would allow aging in place to be a safe possibility. Almost 50% of this demographic reports that they have given little or no consideration to their home’s accessibility. So what features in a home would allow you to age in place?


1. Single-story living: Main-floor living is a feature that older clients should consider when they are in the market for a new home. Ground-level bedrooms and bathrooms are the accessibility features that most older adults will need. Single-story homes are a safe route to promote aging in place; however, multi-level homes can still work so long as you can access their bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen on the ground floor. Even with single-story living, you may still want or need friends, family members, or hired professionals to take over housecleaning and maintenance. Having everything needed on one main story will allow for added comfort, independence, and safety.


2. Accessibility features: Home upgrades designed to improve accessibility are often a selling point for seniors and their families, especially if they intend to age in place. Grab bars, barrier-free showers, raised toilet seats, and lever-style door handles are accessibility features to look for. Stair-free or ramped entryways and hallways wide enough for a wheelchair should also be considered. While it is unlikely that you will find a home that has all these features, it is a good idea to prioritize which accessibility features are most important and within range for your budget. For example, it may be easier to install grab bars or change door handles than it would be to widen a hallway.


3. High-tech aids: Assistive technology provides a wide range of applications that promote independent living. Such high-tech aids are becoming indispensable for aging in place. The technology itself is more advanced, targeted, and easy to operate. Aging adults are also becoming more comfortable using tech devices. Seniors report higher levels of confidence in technology than in previous years, with most being eager to adopt gadgets as long as they are taught how to use them in a way they understand. Smart home options including voice-controlled assisting devices (e.g., Alexa, Echo, etc.), doorbell cameras, smart thermostats, and emergency detection systems increase a home’s accessibility and allow for monitoring by faraway caretakers. Smartwatches and cell phones keep aging adults in touch with loved ones and track their location, two invaluable features when a senior needs help away from home. In-home monitoring systems, stove alarms, programmed pill boxes, and personal emergency systems are all devices designed specifically to assist the elderly population who live independently. These gadgets monitor home and health conditions and can report a variety of information to remote caretakers—for instance, if their loved one has a health emergency, leaves the refrigerator door open, forgets to take their pills, or leaves the house.


4. Senior-friendly communities: Assessing the senior-friendliness of a community is an important priority that can be overlooked. Are you close to your doctors? What about your friends and family members? Will you be able to maintain landscaping? Do other seniors live nearby, or is there a senior center in the area? These general considerations are important for many. It is important to find a community that matches not only your needs but also your interests. If you prioritize fitness, look at communities with walking trails, gyms, or senior dance classes. Research suggests that seniors who are physically and socially active are less likely to experience physical decline or depression, so consider connecting clients with community resources and senior groups.


If you are interested in taking a free needs assessment to help you find out what type of home is right for you to age in place, give Jennifer a call at 440-371-2862. She also offers free Downsizing Consultations where she come to your home to help you create a plan to sell your current home and find a home that will allow you to age in place. Finally, please visit downsizing411.com for a list of her free upcoming seminars and Lunch and Learns.

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